Are personality tests really that accurate

Maria Lavrentyeva, Editorials Editor

A human’s personality is a combination of numerous traits, mannerisms, behaviors, and situational reactions. It is different for every person.

Over the years, psychologists and scientists in general have learned a great deal about personalities. A main development is the idea that people can be, based on their traits, placed into categories. For example, those who are very social are known as extroverts, and those who are not are introverts.

This categorization is done through “personality tests,” which is a series of questions focused on people’s hobbies, behaviors, traits and more. The results are processed and analyzed to give a general or specific personality. Personality traits today are very popular in HR processes and in the workplace. However, some believe that placing humans into categories may seem prejudiced and negative, which leads to bad stereotypes and personal limits.

“… We end up applying labels to people that limit their ability to do things that fall outside of their test scores. We box people in and refuse to let them out. The end result being that talented employees can suddenly find themselves kept from work they are good at,” Dustin Robinson said in “The Problem with Personality Tests.”

Others believe that, especially in a work environment, past accomplishments and reputations should be considered more than personality types. These letters or scores are unable to fully reflect complex personalities, which can change based on environments and situations.

One of the most popular tests is the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator. It assesses “psychological preferences” using Carl Jung’s theory that humans experience the world through four main psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. One of those functions being dominant over the others is what determines a type of personality.

Though popular, tests like these have had their faults. For one, they are poor at being predictable and have significantly low reliability. They can give different results for the same person. In addition, some categories have been proven to correlate with each other, not taken into account by the scores and results. Also, these personality tests do not provide accurate explanations and results for people with neuroticism. Those with it can be extremely moody with dramatic mood swings. As a result, many tests, like the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator, cannot accurately pinpoint one dominant emotion.

Proponents of the tests argue that taking them provides people with numerous benefits. For those that cannot decide or are confused, they can offer career options for specific personalities. In education, teachers can build a more efficient environment by knowing the ways in which students learn best. These tests can also help provide people with personalities they would work best with in different relationships, and how to live a maximum efficient life knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.

“Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgements sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire,” Isabel Briggs Myers said.

Isabel Myers is an American author who worked with her mother to create the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which, to this day, is both praised and criticized.